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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

June 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Seattle joins school districts dropping senior projects

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

As high-school graduations wrap up this month, a six-year tradition is ending in some school districts: the senior project.

Seattle Public Schools appears to be one of the first to drop the projects after state legislators voted last spring to stop requiring all students to complete one to earn their high-school diplomas.

In a letter to principals a few weeks ago, district leaders said individual Seattle high schools could continue to require the projects if they wished but the district wasn’t going to.

A spokeswoman said it’s too early to know if any schools will keep it.

Seattle students will still be required to complete 60 hours of community service to graduate.

The state Board of Education first made the projects a graduation requirement for the class of 2008, following the lead of about half the state’s school districts that were already requiring seniors to complete some type of culminating project to earn their diplomas, said Linda Drake, the board’s research director.

Over the years, the type of projects students were asked to do varied considerably — from research papers to reflections to in-depth projects judged by panels of community members.

Among the other districts that have dropped the requirement are Edmonds, as reported by Lynnwood Today, and, in Eastern Washington, the Ellensburg and Waitsburg school districts.

Ironically, it was a senior project that ended the senior project.

Tiffany Stewart, stepdaughter of state Rep. David Taylor of Yakima, drafted the legislation as part of her senior project and testified in Olympia, saying that while some students took the projects seriously, others didn’t have the time or resources to do more than the bare minimum.

What do you think about senior projects? Are they worthwhile or a waste or time? Will your district continue to require them? Weigh in via the poll below, and offer your thoughts in the comments section.

Comments | More in News | Topics: Edmonds School District, Seattle Public Schools, senior project

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